Jerry Della Femina was one of the great New York creatives.
As a young man, in the 1960s, he worked at a big old fashioned agency on Madison Avenue.
One time he was in a very serious creative briefing.
Just like you see on Mad Men.
Everyone sitting around wearing suits and ties.
All the top people from the agency were there.
They were being briefed to launch the Japanese technology giant Panasonic, in America.
Suddenly, Della Femina said, “Hold it I’ve got it.”
The meeting stopped and everyone looked up.
He said, “I can see it now, on billboards all over the USA”
They said, what?
He said, “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbour”
Obviously he didn’t stay long at that big old-fashioned agency after that.
In fact he went on to build a great creative agency of his own.
And he wrote the definitive book about that period.
How honesty and intelligence rebelled against the big old-fashioned ‘Mad Men’.
The name of the book was the line he said in that meeting.
I still think it’s the best thing that’s been written about the creative rebellion.
About once every 5 or 10 years I go back and read it again.
To remind me why I got into the business.
To put some sanity back.
To give me something to hold onto when all the new-think, new-speak gurus begin babbling about the current fashion.
The other day I read this extract.
And a light went back on.
A light that’s been off for quite a while in our business.
See what you think.
“The excitement in that room is fantastic, now we can’t sit still, we’re jumping up and down.
There is an electric feeling in the room, and this is what the business is about as far as the creative person is concerned.
That’s when an ad comes together, this is how it happens.
No one has ever written about it.
No one’s ever come close to describing what it is.
They talk about it as though it’s magic.
There’s really no magic.
You know what it’s like?
It’s like two salesmen sitting down trying to find a handle on how they’re going to sell the car this morning.
The doors are going to open, and people are going to come in, and what are we going to say to get them to buy this car?
That’s really the whole thing.
People shouldn’t try to make it into a writer and an art director.
It’s two salesmen sitting there trying to figure something out and coming up with an idea.”
When was the last time you heard anyone in an ad agency refer to themselves like that?
Long time, right?